31 October 2012

f(x) = George Romero

George Romero is hailed as a luminary of horror. This being Halloween, it seems appropriate to write about him.

Night of the Living Dead is widely regarded as a masterpiece and was groundbreaking for its notable blah blah blah. Everyone agrees it's good. I knew it was good before I even saw it.

Then I saw it and I thought, "Hey, that was pretty good."

And I assumed George Romero was dead because I am... often mistaken.

But he's not! He's very much still alive (as of this writing) and still putting out movies.

And that's where the problems arise.

People should listen to George Romero because he wrote and directed Night of the Living Dead. But people shouldn't have kept giving him blank checks to create heavy-handed quasi social commentary in the form of zombie movies.

His movies got worse. Not even like, "I read the wikipedia synopsis of them and they sound like they got much worse."

It's a fact, with numbers and stuff.


The data from Rotten Tomatoes for the "...of the Dead" series:

I didn't include 1990's Night of the Living Dead (written by George Romero but directed by Tom Savini) because it's a remake. 

I did include other films he did not direct but wrote if they fall into the same Noun of the Adjective Dead series because I feel like George Romero owns that and is ultimately responsible for it.

"...Of the Living Dead" Rotten Tomato Scores Over Time with Trend-line
Edward Tufte would kill me for using line widths greater than 1pt but i felt like splurging. The trend-line, in black, is clearly heading down. Wayyyyyy down.

In fact if we plot the x-intercept for this graph we find that his movies should already be getting Rotten Tomato scores in the negative numbers. It would have hit zero somewhere in the 2010 timeframe.

What I'm losing sight of is perhaps the most important thing of all:

He can really rock a pair of gigantic old-man glasses.

To be fair he did kind of create the iconic modern zombie that has absolutely saturated pop culture... and that's perhaps reason enough to let him keep directing whatever he wants. No matter how poorly it scores.

23 October 2012

Terrible Idea IV

Martini Glass Coffee Mug

This wouldn't be a mug, as such, but a glazed ceramic martini glass.

Why is it Terrible?

It would possess a number of qualities that make for a terrible coffee vessel:

  • Lots of surface area
  • Doesn't hold much liquid
  • Super tippy
  • Difficult to hold without burning hand


No. There's no potential to this idea. I'd hate to receive something like this, even as a gag gift. Too inelegant for a proper martini and too stupid to drink coffee out of. Let this concept be stricken from the minds of novelty glassware manufacturers in perpetuity.

18 October 2012

MC Rhymesomuch

There is a large segment of the population for whom rap is synonymous with a caricature of Run DMC.

To rap, you kind of do something like:

I'm MC Punchful and I'm here to say/ I'm gonna rock the rhymes in a punchful way!

You do a back and forth thing with your hands and kind mug your face like you're trying to look tough.

Now you're rapping, now!

I try to stay away from any kind of analysis regarding rap/hip-hop because I'm still convinced that it's impossible to do without coming across as:
  • pompous
  • a failed satirist
  • racist?
  • funny ten years ago
I already paved the way in another post discussing the efforts of 2 Chainz and Kanye, and I've addressed an earnest desire to recognize some of Eminem's choicer work. That was relegated to Purgatory but I think it's time to let it through the gates.

This is from "A Kiss" from Hell: The Sequel. The song is (the album, really) split between Eminem and Royce da 5'9". 

Okay I already feel like I'm in over my head.

No! I will remain resolute and continue. 

Here we go, "A Kiss". 

A one-night stand is all he wants with a female fan, yeah one like Stan/ And he's so about a one night stand, his bedroom has two lamps/ And only one nightstand(...)
There's no antecedent to the pronoun in the first line but he fixes that by describing "he" as "one like Stan". Stan's Eminem's alter ego - lot's of rappers have one so that's not too big a deal.

The rhyming here is solid but the part I really enjoy is the one night stand/one nightstand bit.

Night stand and nightstand are homonyms kind of except it's spread across two words. I'm more impressed with this kind of visual pun. You got a bedroom? Reading lamp? Stick it on a nightstand. So if you have two lamps and just the one nightstand your plan would then involve bedding women who were so perceptive that their train of thought would go: "Bedroom, huh? That's odd that there's two lamps in here but only the one nightstand. One nightstand? Wait, this is a one night stand!"

Pretty good.

One more song from the same album and then I'm going to go crawl back into obscurity. From Lighters:
I love it when I tell ‘em shove it/ cuz it wasn’t that, long ago when Marshall sat flustered lacked luster/ cuz he couldn’t cut mustard/ muster up nuthin’, brain fuzzy cuz he’s buzzin’ woke up from that buzzer/ now you wonder why he does how he does it, wasn’t cuz he had buzzards/ circlin’ ‘round his head waitin’ for him to drop dead was it?/ or was it ‘cuz them bitches wrote him off, little hussy ass scuzzes/ fuck it, guess it doesn’t matter now does it?/
The king of this verse is [z]; the queen is [s]. Every line has a "z" or "s" sound and they all kind of flow together to make this very dense sounding verse. It stands out from everything before and after it. It's delivered quickly but not obnoxiously fast. It's just... all of those alveolar fricatives (voiced and voiceless) hit the ear in a very unique way.

And he wrote it! And it's not apparent from how it's written how it will end up sounding. You have to say it out loud (to yourself, quietly) to really get it.

"Does it", "was it",  "...it cuz" etc. He's fully taken the way we turn these phrases into words; we mash them together in most informal speech - and brought them to fit right in with "scuzzes" and "buzzards" and "fuzzy". Very good. It's very clever, I think.


Peace! We outta here!

::drops mic::

16 October 2012

Skinny Cow

I've never really been sure how to write this post, which would be why it has sat empty, in my drafts, for nearly a year.

I've decided a direct approach is best.

Skinny, the cow from Skinny Cow, is hot.


She's a stone cold fox, whether perched coyly on an ottoman or lounging poolside.

And she's not above sharing some saucy Polaroids, either.

She keeps that measuring tape strategically positioned though, right? Or... I dunno. Skinny seems to possess only the female form and - for better or for worse - no anatomy that would require any unpleasant compromises.

Actually the more I look at these pictures the more I can imagine the mind of Skinny's illustrator; their brainstorming checklist:

Coffee stains and everything!
How well did they do?

No resemblance!

More importantly (most importantly,) could I have done better?

Part of what kept me from writing this post was that I kept thinking I was going to redraw Skinny, but chestier. That now seems like it's territory better left undiscovered. I find solace in the fact that if I had a client ask me for a "sexy, fit cow-lady" I could do no better than Skinny.

Although if we're talking about non-human food mascot relations, I think you could do better than Skinny.

I'd go with 50's era Chicken of the Sea Mermaid.

Hell yes. And that sailor would too.

15 October 2012

New and Noteworthy

Dante's pal Virgil was born today. Thanks to him, Dante was able to escape from a series of allegory-heavy vignettes of sinners and then do whatever happens in the third book of the Divine Comedy that no one reads.

It's Heaven, right?

Happy Birthday too to Friedrich Nietzsche, writer of Also Sprach Zarathustra. Without him, we wouldn't have a title for the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Also today, Lee Iacocca was born! Iacocca is best known for creating wheeled fuel-bombs known as "Pintos" and sending them zipping around America's roadways. Also he designed the Ford Mustang so, that's something. That was before Mustangs sucked (Mopar all the way, baby!).

Lee Iacocca shares a birthday with Emeril Lagasse.

Boooooooo, Emeril Lagasse!

You do a disservice to other October 15th birthday celebrants.

October 15th is also the feast day of St. Hedwig of Silesia! This is not noteworthy in any specific way, and St. Hedwig is not the patron saint of anything. But I figured I'd give her a shout out as I imagine she doesn't come up much in conversation.

According to the New York Times, on this day in 1860,
"Eleven-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard."
Growing a beard is fine advice, regardless of whether or not you're President!

Happy Birthday y besos to all other October 15th Libras.

11 October 2012

The Houston Connection

Or, further proof that everything old is new again.

88 Lines about 44 Women came up in my running play list the other day. The playlist is generated based on BPM; I'm not sure that I would have picked that song otherwise.

It's pretty good though, it's got a very persistent beat. Good for running.

Anyway the song is a series of couplets - 44, specifically - about 44 different women. Wikipedia tells me it's by The Nails. It's possible the only thing of note they contributed to the musical landscape but I can't attest to that.

You get lines like:

"Zilla was an archetype/ the voodoo queen, the queen of rap."


"Jean-Marie was complicated/ like some French film maker's plot."

Ho ho ho. The song is all very New Wave and clever and then I hear:

"Patty had a house in Houston/ shot cough syrup in her veins"



Alright, so this song came out in 1984. That's the first reference to Houston and cough syrup that I'm now aware of. Before that, it was the entirety of Three Six Mafia's discography, but specifically 2001's "Sippin' on Some Syrup". 

What the hell were they talking about? Being in high school and also not living in Houston or having an encyclopedic knowledge of regional US drug culture I had no idea about the close ties that Houston-area rappers had to codeine (or similar) cough syrup (mixed with soda, I forgot that part). "Lean" - on account of it makes you super sleepy and you're leaning over. Tremendous! I then went through a brief period of downloading chopped and screwed remixes of songs from Napster. That would be - playing songs at have speed and chopping them up on turntables. It's sounds like what "about to fall asleep" feels like. I'm sure it's an excellent complement to being out of your mind and struggling to stay awake on prescription strength Oxycontin cough syrup.

In fact... I remember now that one of my earliest blogs (which was then known as a homepage (which furthermore was hosted on AOL or somewhere shitty)) had a rather lengthy rant regarding censorship of references to weed on the radio and MTV - but no problems with an entire song about what amounted to just another drug. I wanted to be the guy that said "Hey! You know that song? About syrup? Did you know it's called drank and it's about this cough syrup that these rapper guys drink? And it's Houston?" I was that guy in high. I still kind of am that guy, unfortunately. 

I think this post attests to that.

Continuing: Cough syrup! I had no idea that this was even a thing and then it turns out that there had been a whole subculture surrounding the abuse of cough syrup that I wasn't privy to. It was like a curtain had been opened. 

Then, eleven years after that song came out I hear an even older song that further cements the ties between Houston and cough syrup. The curtain is pulled back further! But also I realize that Three Six Mafia wasn't onto anything new in 2001 if The Nails beat them to it by fourteen years.

Wheels within wheels, man.

But Why?

Houston is awful. It's 100 degrees year round and the humidity tops 100% most days, based on my exaggerated impressions of a town I've been to once. 

I imagine the bay is slick with a rainbow sheen of oil and everyone there who doesn't work for a struggling energy company lives next to Paul Wall and Mike Jones and hangs out with Slim Thug and UGK at 59 South Lee. 

Why cough syrup? Why mix it with soda? Why does Houston make people want to escape reality in such a unique and candy-sweet fashion? 

I expect I'll never know.

09 October 2012

Pretenders to the Throne

Jägermeister is the undisputed king of metal booze. It's made from 56 herbs and spices, all of which are licorice.

Their current ad campaign features Kerry King of Slayer fame who, in spite of being kind of an ass, is quite metal. 

They also feature vignettes of tough men doing assorted metal things like tattooing or rodeo-clowning.

Wait I just found the full set of profiles:
  • Mike Lingerfelt: NASCAR Pit Crew Champion
  • Freddie Roach: Boxing Trainer
  • Keyshawn Johnson: All-Pro Wide Receiver
  • Kerry King: Guitarist [come on though, it's fuckin' Slayer]
  • Nathan Fletcher: Big Wave Surfer
  • Rob Smets: Rodeo Bullfighter [not a rodeo clown, in spite of his clown face paint]
  • Mister Cartoon: Artist (tattoos)
Are these all metal? I dunno, maybe..

The point is, Jägermeister (getting very tired of typing that umlaut) presents itself as the baddest-assed, most metal liquor available. Who hasn't seen a band on the Jägermeister side stage? Who hasn't stopped by the Jägermeister tent at a metal festival to try and get some free shit?

No one. No one has not done these things because Jägermeister ("Jäger", if you're fucking awesome) positions itself at the forefront of these things. 

But must it be Jägermeister forever? Evaluated objectively, it's kind of medicinal and great if you like sweet black licorice. If you take away the licorice all you have is an umlaut and a fraktur logo. Plus there's the mythical ghost-chamois that the inventor hallucinated or... whatever. And that's kind of metal. We can do better, though.


Let's explore an alternate universe; one where things evolved much the same as our own with the chief exception that a different Germanic booze positioned itself at the forefront of getting people drunk while listening to Slayer.



Why is it a potential candidate? Because it's got a man fighting a bear over a beehive on the label, that's why.


What happens next? Does the bear get punched with bear trap boxing gloves?

Does the man get his scalp clawed off and the bear eats his brains? Is honey involved?

At any rate, the very label tells a story worthy of any ambient black metal or progressive/stoner rock band. Plus it tastes good, very sweet. Easy to drink a lot of and good warm or cold. I personally think Bärenjäger deserves the top spot, but it will forever be the Pepsi to Jägermeister's Coke. Or possibly it's the RC Cola, it's hard to say.


"The Spirit of Austria"

Let's be clear; the 80 is not the proof, it's the percentage alcohol. So STROH 80 weighs in at 160 proof, or roughly twice that of your standard anything else. Exceptions are made for Bacardi 151, Everclear and Wild Turkey. And once upon a time, Jack. Until they made it weaker to appeal to a larger consumer base.

Anyway, I'll let the website tell you a little bit about them:
"Whether for cooking, baking or as warmth spending drink it is always the right season for the unmistakable STROH aroma."
So STROH corporate (a.k.a. The Man) wants you to bake with it. That means they're sort of selling giant bottles of something like vanilla extract. I'm more interested in it for its ability to make warmth spending drink.

STROH is not very metal looking and there's nothing metal about cooking or baking, but warmth spending drink is pretty metal and Austria is metal enough. So I'd say it's a strong contender - maybe more so if they strengthen their brand a bit. An umlaut would not be gramatically correct but that didn't stop Motley Crue from seeing success. I'm just saying, it can't hurt. If they played their cards right we'd all be familiar with the unmistakable STROH aroma.


These guys are close but they'll never make it all the way.

Rumple Minze

I was going to count this out as being too fairy-tale-ish and then I found this picture:


So, points go to Rumple Minze. Still I think this proves that at one point they tried too hard; trying too hard to be metal is not metal. Note the bear and the armor-clad warrior maiden. Rumple Minze might be best drank ironically while listening to Re-Thrash or whatever 3 Inches of Blood is.


I'm lumping these two together because they're pretty much the same. They're Bavarian "medicinal" liquers and they both taste like it. Imagine a less-sweet Jägermeister that's awful.

Bärwurz has a bear on the label but... it's not very metal.

It's not very metal at all. That bear doesn't look very mean; it's just kind of hanging out. Still though, we've seen that associating a bear with your brand is a step in the right direction so they get points for trying.


Blutwurz. Let's say it in English:


I would drink something called bloodroot, and then I'd listen to Kreator or some other old German thrash and go safety pin some band logos to my leather jacket. Then I'd keep drinking until I blacked out.

Hang on though. They put a bird on it? That's not... very metal at all. They put two birds on it. I objectively enjoy the label but they're not going to be sponsoring any second stages at any festivals any time soon. Blutwurz also needs some help before they can hope to usurp Jägermeister.

Lessons Learned

As with many things, it's important to get there first. We've seen that it's not about the number of umlauts, the taste or strength of the booze. And it's not enough to just be German! It's all about branding. Jäger as it, they're owning it and I don't think they have anything to worry about any time soon. 

They would do well to put a bear on their label though. Clearly it can only help.

02 October 2012

Not Just Old -- Internet Old

If I want to know what it was like to wait for the iPhone 5 launch (or Samsung Galaxy S III if you're a giant with giant hands) all I have to do is remember back real hard and then I remember what it was like.

'Cause it was like two weeks ago. And I can remember back that far so, that works well.

But I don't really remember the launch for the first iPhone. I wasn't following the blogs I'm following today and it's hard for me to place myself in the middle of the buzz that led up to what, at that point, was a largely unknown mystery magic-box.

To the internet!

Let's use, for example, engadget. They're a fairly respected gadget blog and they've been around for a while. I remember that before it was officially the iPhone it was whispers of an Apple phone. So I search for that in the 2006 neighborhood of engadget and find some choice tips:
  • January launch on "all" providers, both CDMA and GSM
  • Extremely small form factor
  • Two battery design (with single charger) -- one for playing music, the other for phone functions
  • Flash memory: 4GB for $249, 8GB for $449
  • "Slide-out keyboard"
  • Possibly touchscreen

Pretty sweet right? Personally I'm most excited about the slide-out keyboard. But what would the internet be without throngs of irritated, impossibly knowledgeable commenters? 

From the same post:

This guy's actually not that bad. What's fascinating to me is going back and trying to get into that mindset. Trying to guess whether or not the guesses were right.

Even more interesting is the fact that this comment is nearly seven years old. That's fuckin' forever on the internet. Remember chat roulette? It has come and gone in that time span. Rickrolling? Four more iPhones? All of that has come to pass. If you told me in 2006 that animated .gifs were to make a strong resurgence in 2012 I would have punched you squarely in the jaw. People have graduated high school, gone to college, and started shitty jobs in seven years. It's a long time.

But, without getting into a broader discussion on the nature of time (just kidding here I go!) seven years is the blink of an eye. On the scale of a human life, seven years is a fractional amount. On a geological timescale seven years wouldn't even register and when you start looking at things like the age of the universe - and how long it could take for the universe to collapse back into supermassive black holes and protons to die - seven years rounds down to zero. It's nothing.

I'm saying it's hard to think on longer time scales, which is why I have maximum respect for the folks of the Long Now Foundation. They're in the process of designing a clock that could run for 10,000 years. Jeff Bezos has a smaller one being built in Texas so they can work out the kinks. 

10,000 years! That's incredible. Whether it succeeds in 10,000 years is immaterial to me. The idea that there are people who are optimistic enough to think that any of this will still exist in 10,000 years is exciting. I can't plan more than a week at a time.

I'm stuck in "now".

The Long Now has a Long Bets section - an "Arena for Accountable Predictions". 

This is where I'm tying back everything from the beginning, by the way.

Anyway you can hop over to Long Bets and say 

"Oh I bet in 100 years that we'll all be wearing cargo shorts again." 

(fingers crossed)

Then your prediction gets vetted and up it goes and in 100 years someone will come back and say "Ha! How can you wear cargo shorts if no one has any legs, stupid human?" Then the hyper-evolved squid will blast off in a jet of ink and you'll feel foolish for making such a prediction. 

But I figured this was just a place for people to make outlandish bets for far-future events. And there is some of that. For the span 2008 - 2108:

Well okay, in 2108 I'll come back and see if that happened and then i'll rub this dude's face in it. 

Imagine my surprise then when I found a bet that had been settled.

Well... damn. That's actually pretty good. But someone could have placed that bet in 2008 right? 


It's from 2002. On the internet! Ten years! And my first clue (other than the listed dates) was this right here:

10 years ago! Just like that. And this isn't one of those long-dead message boards that floats to the top in a Google search or something. It's not a cached page. This is an active site - still. By the way, someone was determined to have lost that bet in 2010 (or 02010 as they list it, emphasizing the long time scale of these things) courtesy of Netflix. Netflix... who is still around! 

So not only did someone keep this site up for now twelve years, but the commenters and comment system are still intact and active. This is the same dedication that these "six years of aging" time-lapse people display. 


And the way they're operating it's as if they actually intend for this framework to still be in place in 50 years or 100 years to settle bets that are still being placed. It's humbling and hopelessly optimistic and for the most part, seems very genuine. There's some big names in here too - Ted Danson, Ray Kurzweil (futurist), Michio Kaku (the physicist from the TV), Warren Buffett.

So while seven year old comments are interesting, they pale next to ten year old comments and are totally blown out of the water by a group of people actively imagining the next 10,000 years. 


Here's an article about a 600+ year long organ performance.